Saturday, 25 February 2017


Recording of Mass at my old seminary, Ushaw College, from 1960.

I came across a post this morning by Liturgy Guy recounting the story of a priest who wanted to learn the Traditional Form of the Mass and indeed started to do so but gave up, saying that he simply did not have the background and formation in the theology and spirituality of the Holy Mass to deal with the ancient rite. He makes the following interesting comments on the incident:
Sadly we are finding that the Church has often failed priests in teaching them the Faith, and in so doing they have failed the laity who are supposed to be sanctified by these very same priests. 
We often think of the classic expression lex orandi lex credendi (as we pray, so we believe) as being applicable to the laity. In reality, it is just as applicable to our priests. Possibly even more so.
Remember too, many of the priests formed by the new Mass over the last fifty years have now gone on to become bishops; and here we are left dealing with the fall out of this liturgical formation and its ramifications for the Church.
The current challenge to orthodoxy cannot be separated from the ongoing assault against orthopraxy.
Pray that more of the laity, more of our priests, and more of our bishops recognise this for themselves. Of course, this first requires a familiarity with the traditional liturgy.
My concern is that many do recognise this connection, and that is why they are so hostile toward the traditional Mass.
In reading round I saw an instant connection with another story, shared by the Eponymous Flower concerning the ongoing and tragic story of the Church in Belgium, where the initiatives that had begun to be put in place during Pope Benedict's reign to stem the catastrophic decline of the Church there are being sadly undone. The Society of the Holy Apostles which had undertaken the care of two parishes in the Brussels region and founded a seminary is being ejected by the new Archbishop of Brussels, Jozef De Kesel (appointed in 2015 by Pope Francis). The previous Archbishop (Archbishop Léonard) insisted on this parallel priestly training, hoping to train a new clergy at their new seminary. Three years after the foundation, 21 young men were already preparing for the priesthood. This new foundation was "too successful," as it was described behind the scenes.

An aerial view of Ushaw College - Junior and Senior House.

The formation of priests is a key to how the Church will look on the ground. What I learnt in seminary stays with me - even today after I've tried to revise much of it and even though at the time I was not always keen to be shaped into the model student that was perceived as ideal! Nevertheless, shaped I was by the teaching and the praxis I experienced there. 

Could it be that many more priests than we think would like to be more open to such things as Latin and the Traditional Mass but know that, as well as the uphill battle they would face at a diocesan level and from parishioners who have been told for fifty years that such things are forbidden, they have also not been equipped with the theology, spirituality and language to do so very easily? 


Anonymous said...

How desperately sad is the video of Ushaw College roof. It has been allowed to go derelict for at least twenty years. What an indictment it is of the stewardship of
the Northern Bishops who have charge of it. Could they not have converted the buildings to dwellings, perhaps with the help of a Housing Association?
The Catholic Church is obviously unfit to be in charge of Property.

Unknown said...

Dear Father, It is true that for those of us who were formed, for example, in the nineteen eighties, the prospect of learning the Traditional Mass is daunting. I would even say that the time and effort necessary to learning it is a kind of mortification. But Lent is coming soon, a time for mortification. And the Holy Cross leads to the Resurrection. I would encourage those who are thinking of learning the Mass of Ages to do so. Believe me, you will not regret it. Could I suggest that, if a priest is thinking about learning it, they do as I did some years ago. Contact a priest who already says it and arrange to have a course of lessons. Then contact your nearest FSSP or ICKSP shrine, or go on a Latin Mass Society course to 'refine' what you have learnt. You can be sure that the desire you have already felt, to learn the form of Mass which was said and attended by so many Saints, is from the Holy Spirit.

God bless,

Father Ian O'Shea

vetusta ecclesia said...

I met a priest who said that at no point while he studied at Ushaw was it taught that the primary purpose of the Mass was to give glory to God!

David O'Neill said...

Replying to Fr O'Shea; The Latin Mass Society will also supply a FREE instructional DVD to any priest wishing to avail himself of it. I have passed copies to several newly ordained priests in the hope it might inspire them. I agree entirely that the suggestions of Fr O'Shea are of great help but the DVDs will present a first look.